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John Greening, The Silence: Launch

Saturday 13 Jul 2019, 19:00 to 21:30

St Mary's Church
Upper Street
N1 2TX


Please join us to celebrate the launch of John Greening's second Carcanet collection, The Silence, for an evening of readings, music, discussion and drinks. The evening is kindly co-hosted by Poetry in the Crypt, and we will be joined by The Dryad String Quartet.

Refreshments will be provided, and copies of the book will be available to purchase. For each book sold we will donate £1 to Hospice Care Kenya. Please let us know you can make it by reserving a free Eventbrite ticket.

The long title poem of John Greening's The Silence is a meditation on Jean Sibelius and the thirty years he spent grappling with an eighth symphony, which in the end he probably burned. The poem is emblematic of a broader concern with the mystery of the creative process, explored here in the work of other artists but also grappled with first-hand, in the composition of poems. The collection is haunted by other kinds of silence too, especially that most emphatic one (notably in Greening's witty formal verse letter, 'Airmail for Chief Seattle'and an Egyptian sequence based on wall paintings in the British Museum), but at the same time it is open to the bright potentiality of the unknown, the beyond. A tribute to the late Dennis O'Driscoll is a bold meditation on hope, a mood intensified in a series of uplifting Hölderlin translations. Elsewhere, Greening visits the Peak District, Brecklands, chalklands and a lost world of highwaymen and mythology beneath the runways of Heathrow, tuning in to the special music of each place. Along the way are striking individual poems on trees, penny coins, Hilliard miniatures, a coal bunker, a totem pole, the X5 bus route and musical migrating geese.

John Greening was born in London, studied at Swansea, Mannheim and Exeter, and after working for Hans Keller at BBC Radio 3, became a teacher, living in Egypt, Scotland, New Jersey and Cambridgeshire. Since Westerners (1982) there have been well over a dozen collections, notably To the War Poets (Carcanet, 2013), and several studies of poetry and poets. His Oxford edition of Edmund Blunden's Undertones of War appeared in 2015, as did his music anthology, Accompanied Voices: Poets on Composers. Subsequent publications include a major collaboration with Penelope Shuttle, Heath, a memoir of two years in Upper Egypt, Threading a Dream, a new edition of Geoffrey Grigson's poetry, and the gift anthology Ten Poems about Sheds. He is a regular TLS reviewer and a judge of the Eric Gregory Awards. He has won the Bridport Prize, the TLS Centenary Prize and in 2008 received a Cholmondeley Award. He was until recently RLF Writing Fellow at Newnham College. He is married with two daughters.

This event is free to attend, but please reserve a place via Eventbrite. There is also a Facebook page. The event will begin at 19:00 and include reading from John Greening, as well as music from The Dryad String Quartet. There will be the opportunity to ask questions. We will be serving refreshments. For each copy of the book sold we will donate £1 to Hospice Care Kenya. Please direct any queries to

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